Pain Experience And Expression In Individuals With Asd
At one time, individuals with ASD who engaged in SIB were viewed as having a high tolerance for pain, in part due to their hypo-responsiveness or lack of reaction to a range of positive and negative stimuli, as well as the fact that pain should ordinarily act as a deterrent for self-harm . An unfortunate outcome of this belief is that pain assessments may not be carried out routinely for individuals with ID, including those with ASD . Allely conducted a systematic review of research on pain responses in individuals with ASD, finding several case reports that provided some support for pain insensitivity. However, evidence from experimental studies challenged this view and instead suggested that individuals with ASD experience pain but may express it in a different or unusual manner. Moore examined studies that provided information about the experience of pain and pain expression in individuals with ASD. A review of studies based on clinical observations and experimental investigations using standardized pain stimuli failed to yield evidence of hypo-sensitivity to pain or increased pain thresholds in individuals with ASD, but did raise the possibility that they may display different social communicative behaviors during pain episodes. For instance, children with ASD may express negative emotional reactions such as screaming or noncompliance when experiencing pain which could mislead caregivers into looking for non-pain related explanations for their behavior .
Summary Of Causes Of Head Banging Self
Pain is the cause of head banging, self-injury and aggression. Medical assessment can identify why children are in pain. The most common medical causes of pain in autism are sensory issues and digestive issues. Biomedical treatment addresses sensory and digestive pain using treatments like dietary intervention and methyl B12 injections. Biomedical intervention improves quality of life by treating medical issues in autism. These untreated conditions cause pain which certainly reduces quality of life while also negatively impacting development.
What Are The Signs Of Headbanging In A Young Child
- Banging the back of the head against a wall or chair when sitting upright.
- Banging head against the mattress when lying face down.
- Rolling side-to-side on the bed or crib, in such a fast way that the head impacts on the mattress or the side of the crib, even leading to the development of a bald spot.
- Rocking back and forth rhythmically when on their hands and knees and going low enough to repeatedly hit their head on the floor.
- It usually happens when the child is frustrated or sleepy.
Treatment For Head Banging
Head banging is not harmful and typically goes away on its own, so no treatment is typically required.
Since many children practice head banging as a form of comfort at bedtime, any efforts to try and make your child stop head banging may increase their anxiety and make them want to do it more.
However, if you think that the head banging is disrupting your child’s sleep, your pediatrician or a pediatric sleep expert might offer some suggestions as to how to decrease this behavior, such as the following.
- Make sure that your child is in a safe environment when she goes to sleep and can’t hurt herself while banging her head. You want the crib to be sturdy, so it won’t break or fall apart due to any aggressive head banging or body rolling. Be certain the screws are all tightened as much as possible. For kids who are too old for cribs, guardrails on beds may help prevent them from falling out of bed.
- Offer an alternative bedtime comfort object, such as a blanket or stuffed animal.
- Stick to fairly strict routines for bedtime and naps.
What Does Common Baby Head Banging Look Like
As odd as it may seem, head banging among babies and toddlers is actually a normal behavior. Some children do this around nap time or bedtime, almost as a self-soothing technique.
But despite being a common habit, its no less upsetting or frightening for you. Its only natural to think the worst. Can head banging cause brain damage? Is it a sign of something serious? Can it cause other injury? Is my toddler angry?
Head banging can take different forms. Some children only bang their head when lying face down in the bed, and then repeatedly bang their head against the pillow or mattress.
Other times, though, babies or toddlers head bang while in an upright position. In this case, they might bang their head against a wall, crib railing, or the back of a chair.
Some children rock their body while banging their head, and others moan or make other noise.
The important thing to know, though, is that head banging isnt usually anything to worry about, especially if it only occurs during nap time or bedtime.
The habit can start around the ages of 6 to 9 months, with many children getting over the habit by ages 3 to 5. Head banging episodes are relatively brief, lasting up to 15 minutes, although they might seem longer if youre worried.
Understanding why a child bangs their head can help calm your nerves. Here are a couple possible explanations, with the first being much, much more common.
Don’t Miss: Can A Child Outgrow Autism
When Should I Consult A Doctor About Head Banging And Body Rocking Behaviors
You may wish to discuss this with your doctor if:
- There is injury associated or you fear there is potential for harm.
- There is a lot of disruption to the home environment due to noisy head banging.
- You feel your child may have other sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea.
- You are concerned about the development of your child.
- You worry your child may be having seizures.
How Parents Can Spot The Warning Signs
As a parent, youre in the best position to spot the earliest warning signs of autism. You know your child better than anyone and observe behaviors and quirks that a pediatrician, in a quick fifteen-minute visit, might not have the chance to see. Your childs pediatrician can be a valuable partner, but dont discount the importance of your own observations and experience. The key is to educate yourself so you know whats typical and whats not.
Monitor your childs development. Autism involves a variety of developmental delays, so keeping a close eye on whenor ifyour child is hitting the key social, emotional, and cognitive milestones is an effective way to spot the problem early on. While developmental delays dont automatically point to autism, they may indicate a heightened risk.
Take action if youre concerned. Every child develops at a different pace, so you dont need to panic if your child is a little late to talk or walk. When it comes to healthy development, theres a wide range of typical. But if your child is not meeting the milestones for his or her age, or you suspect a problem, share your concerns with your childs doctor immediately. Dont wait.
Regression of any kind is a serious autism warning sign
Read Also: Is Asd Hereditary
Signs Of Autism In Adults
Autism spectrum disorder is a lifelong condition and some people with autism spectrum disorder are not diagnosed until they are adults. This could be because they fall into the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum and their symptoms are less severe, or because they were misdiagnosed with a condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.
Although treatment can improve some outward symptoms, people with autism will always process sensations such as sound, sight, touch and smell in different ways.
Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that adults will have different experiences of day-to-day living. An adult with mild symptoms, who is towards the higher functioning range of the autism spectrum, may:
- Have difficulties with social interactions
- Avoid making eye contact
- Not understand nonverbal facial or body gestures, such as frowning or shrugging
- Not understand changes in tone of voice, such as sarcasm
- Be comforted by rules and routine
- Get upset at changes to routines
- Be under- or over-sensitive to loud noises, strong smells or tastes
- Engage in repetitive behaviors, such as pacing or hand flapping
- Have a narrow range of interests
- Have a good memory and recall of facts
An adult who is towards the lower functioning range of the autism spectrum may:
One common sign of autism spectrum disorder in adults is anxiety. Signs of anxiety can include:
Detecting Early Warning Signs Of Autism
The sooner these symptoms are noted, the better. If your child is hitting all of their standard milestones, but still has several of these symptoms, discuss it with their pediatrician. If you have been considering autism for a while now, and this list just made you feel confident that your child is autistic, but you dont have the means to get them an official diagnosis any time soon, check out my super cheap eBook. It will give you plenty of information on how to incorporate therapy at home. There are 75 calming techniques, visual schedules, and an overview of therapy options, along with tons of other helpful information! Which of these symptoms have you observed in your child? Let me know in the comments! And dont forget to subscribe, and grab your free gifts!
Recommended Reading: What Is The Symbol For Autism
Sensory Issues Cause Pain:
Autistic behaviours are an attempt to manage this overstimulation. The pain coming from headbanging is a pain that children can control. It creates pain, but distracts them from a far more distressing pain that is unrelenting and cant be escaped. Children withdraw from the world because of the inability to deal with this massive surplus of data.
Head banging in autism is caused by sensory overload and digestive pain.
Without the ability to interpret the data properly, headbanging and other self-harming behaviours can help give some relief.
Sometimes, hitting, scratching or kicking others helps to manage the frustration of not being able to control sensory bombardment.
Sensory Processing: Sensory Strategies For Head Banging
Senses are often acutely affected in people with ASD. Kids with autism may have increased or decreased sensory sensitivity . An individual can even present both reactions to a different range of stimuli.
Tips to Prevent Self-Harm due to Sensory Overload:
11. Remove stimuli that are causing the sensory discomfort:
- Ensure he wears comfortable clothes
- Remove a smell that may be overpowering
- Remove noise with noise-cancelling headphones. A couple of examples:
- B-Calm GP headphone that comes preloaded with an Autosedation track, for relaxation.
Tips to Prevent Self-Harm due to Under-Stimulation
12. Provide sensory alternatives that provide a similar experience to head banging:
- Jumping on a trampoline
Autism Signs In Babies 2 And Younger
By C. Dixon
With autism rates continuing to rise, its natural that parents want to be aware of what to look for if they suspect their child has autism. The sooner they get a diagnosis, the sooner they can begin therapy and early interventions to help their child develop any necessary skills.
There are several different signs that a child may be on the spectrum, but your child wont necessarily meet every single one. If your child is only showing a sign or two, that doesnt mean they have autism but it also doesnt rule it out.
Rob Owen, the father of three boys on the spectrum with a YouTube page titled Autism Family, shares five signs of autism he noticed in his boys before the age of two years old.
In this video, Rob explains five signs that babies that are two years old or younger may display, based on research hes done as well as his and his wifes experience raising their three boys with ASD.
He primarily focuses on his oldest son, Ian, who showed the most distinct signs of autism and is a higher-needs child compared to his two younger brothers.
He makes a crystal-clear disclaimer in the beginning of the video, emphasizing that these five signs arent absolute. Whether or not your child displays these signs is not a clear indication that they do or do not have autism. Babies develop at different paces, and that doesnt necessarily mean anything is amiss.
The age which these signs crop up and the intensity of them can vary.
When Should Parents Talk To A Doctor About Head Banging
Head banging is rarely a medical concern, but parents should talk about it with their childs doctor if:
- There are any signs of injury from head banging or other repetitive movements
- Their child isnt getting enough sleep at night or shows signs of inattention, lack of concentration, or impaired thinking during the day
- The movements take place throughout the day and not just before or during sleep
- Head banging persists after a child is no longer a toddler
In most cases, a pediatrician will ask parents to maintain a diary of their childs sleep including how frequently they have episodes of head banging. This may be sufficient to determine if a child has Sleep Related Rhythmic Movement Disorder, but if necessary, the doctor can order other tests to rule out the presence of other sleep disorders and arrive at a definitive diagnosis.
You May Like: Are Stuttering And Autism Related
Attachment To Unusual Interests
One of the easiest autism symptoms to detect is an intense interest in unusual objects or topics, almost to the point of obsession. For instance, an autistic individual might love trains, stamps, record players, bottle tops, or spoons. People with autism know what they like and dont care if it seems uncool. They can also be so passionate that theyll devote vast amounts of time to their interests. Frequently, they become subject matter experts on topics they enjoy. Whether drawing, cooking, video games, or chemistry, individuals with autism spend endless amounts of energy practicing their hobby. Most children and adults with autism prefer doing these interests on their own, and there is nothing wrong with that!
Suicidal Ideations And Actions
The prevalence of suicidal thoughts and actions among those who have both concussion-related injury and autism is alarmingly high. Parents and caregivers must be on particularly diligent alert for signs, such as expressions of a wish to die, or to be dead.
Often, multiple attempts to commit suicide are undertaken by affected individuals. Such attempts may be by more common methods, such as pills or weapons, or more inventive means, such as suicide by cop. Others, particularly those harboring deep-seated anger, may elect to commit violent crimes involving others, perhaps taking vengeance against others expecting to be killed by police in the process.
These individuals need constant psychiatric care, though many anti-depressants prescribed for neurotypicals to prevent suicidal actions do not work because the pairing of autism plus concussion keeps the ideation alive in their mind. These people need a lot of sincere love, attention, and monitoring, and likely institutional care.
Don’t Miss: Is Dr Shaun Murphy Really Autistic
Signs And Symptoms Of Autism
There are many signs and symptoms that could indicate a person has autism spectrum disorder. Not all adults or children with autism will have every symptom, and some adults and children without autism may display some of the same behaviors and symptoms.
People with autism spectrum disorder often have difficulties with communication, and connecting emotionally and socially with others. They may also process sensory information, such as sounds and smells, differently from other people. These differences can underlie some of the behavioral signs of autism that people may display.
When looking for early signs of autism spectrum disorder, there are developmental milestones that children are expected to reach by certain ages, such as babbling by four months old and being able to use simple sentences by two years old. If a child reaches these milestones later, or does not develop the skills at all, it may indicate a developmental disorder such as autism spectrum disorder.
Autism can be diagnosed by age two, though symptoms may be apparent much earlier.
Headbanging In An Attempt To Communicate
In some cases, autism and headbanging go together so a child can feel in control. A secondary reason may be that the child is trying to communicate. Nonverbal children will seek ways to communicate, often through movement. If a child knows headbanging will cause a caregiver to rush over and intervene, he/she is likely to use this to his/her advantage to help get needs met. This goes hand-in-hand with attention seeking.
Recommended Reading: Life Expectancy Of Someone With Autism
Developmental Irregularities And Disorders
Sometimes, though, head banging is a sign of a developmental condition like autism, or it might indicate psychological and neurological concerns.
To distinguish a rhythmic movement disorder from a developmental issue, observe when head banging occurs and the frequency.
As a general rule, if your child is healthy and doesnt show signs of a developmental, psychological, or neurological condition and banging only occurs before sleep its likely a very typical rhythmic movement disorder.
On the other hand, if other symptoms accompany head banging like speech delays, emotional outbursts, or poor social interaction there could be another issue. See your pediatrician to rule out an underlying condition.
Although most head banging is normal and not indicative of a developmental problem, watching or hearing the banging can be nerve-racking. Rather than get frustrated, here are a few ways to respond.
How Do You Prevent Head Injury
Typically, healthy toddlers donât seriously injure themselves with this habit. Pain prevents them from banging too hard, but even if it didnât, children under 3 donât generate enough force to cause brain damage or neurologic problems. The front or front/side of the head is the most frequently struck. A toddlerâs head is built to take all of the minor head trauma that is a normal part of learning to walk and climb. Healthy infants and toddlers who are head-bangers grow up to be coordinated and completely normal children.
Curiously, one large study of this habit in healthy children found head-bangers to be measurably advanced compared to their peers. If anything, then, head banging in healthy children can be a sign of increased intelligence.
You May Like: How To Improve Sitting Tolerance In Autism